By: Ebey P. Soman
During a seminar held by the Career Center on September 30th, 2011, I had the opportunity to hear Mrs. Laura Cranston. She is a pharmacy graduate of St. John‟s University (class of 1984) and a former Executive Resident of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP). Dr. Robert Mangione, Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, attributed many of the changes in pharmacy profession and the resources available to students, such as SimMan® (Laerdal) in simulation LAB, as the result of her work.
During her presentation, Mrs. Cranston presented a unique field in pharmacy that many students do not think about: advocacy. Pharmacy advocacy is an important part of our profession that deals with upcoming legislations, the creation of professional standards/requirements, and business.
Mrs. Cranston was inspired to become a pharmacist when she started working as a technician at a local Genovese drug store (now Rite Aid). Her pharmacist, Howard, had a great rapport with his patients, and she was impressed with such interpersonal relationships in a healthcare setting. Over time, she realized that relationships deteriorated as the prescription volume increased and the modern-day, busy retail pharmacy business model replaced the traditional, patient-friendly pharmacy setting. This helped her realize that community pharmacy may not be her career path. She opted to join the industry setting after a guest speaker explained the possible career possibilities it had.
After a short time in the industry, she moved onto the organizational setting. Currently, Mrs. Laura Cranston serves as the Executive Director of the Pharmacy Quality Alliance (PQA), Inc. She is very active within the pharmacy community, and currently serves as the Chair of the Advisory Council of the St. John‟s University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, the Washington D.C. Alumni President of the St. John‟s University chapter, and on the Board of Governors for the University.
She reminded us of a few things that we need to be mindful of to be successful in our profession. First and fore-most is networking. Mrs. Cranston reminded us how small the pharmacy world is and how it is important to begin net-working with people right away.
One great opportunity is the Alumni Insider‟s View in Washington D.C. On October 19 through 21, students will have the opportunity to meet with St. John‟s graduates who hold key positions in some of the nation‟s top industries (legal, healthcare, business, and education) and pharmacy associations. This is important to gain access to residency sites and to meet with individuals who are on the forefront of policy development in pharmacy and healthcare. Many representatives from the pharmacy industry will also attend.
Dr. Vibhuti Arya, over a decade ago, met Mrs. Cranston at Alumni Insider‟s View in Washington, D.C. Over the past years, Dr. Arya has stayed in touch with Mrs. Cranston, and she always attends the Alumni Insider‟s View in D.C. simply to network with new people. It is a classic example of net-working: meeting people and staying in touch with them as you progress through your career.
Mrs. Cranston also asked us to get involved in various pharmacy organizations on campus to drive policy development within that organization. For instance, in the National Community Pharmacist‟s Association‟s (NCPA) Nashville convention, students from various pharmacy schools compete in the Business Plan Competition. The Business Plan Competition helps young pharmacy entrepreneurs develop the blueprints necessary for purchasing a new or existing independent community pharmacy. Whether one wins or not, the competition is a platform for young pharmacy students to be vocal. With their ingenuities and business skills, students may be recruited by top organizations/agencies.
The next important things are to have a professional mentor and envision where you will be within the next five years. To have goals, and to pursue them, requires a certain passion. As Mrs. Cranston mentioned, without passion, you cannot succeed in this profession.
We are fortunate to have alumni, like Mrs. Laura Cranston, who will continue to drive pharmacy policy and inspire younger generations of pharmacy students to develop meaningful goals for their careers.